Nasal obstruction is relatively common in children and can cause mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnoea, teeth grinding at night and a hyponasal voice (flat, muffled voice due to a blocked nose).
Nasal obstruction that results in mouth breathing over a long period of time can result in changes in dentofacial growth (growth of the teeth and jaws). This is usually picked up by a dentist or orthodontist who will then refer children for an ENT assessment.
The most common causes are large adenoids in the back of the nose or large turbinates near front of the nose (due to allergies or hayfever). Other less common causes include a deviated nasal septum, foreign bodies (things kids put in their nostrils), choanal atresia (failure of the back of the nasal cavity to open during development), polyps (uncommon, unless the child has Cystic Fibrosis) or tumours (uncommon in children).
Regardless of the age of your child, Dr Levin will be able to get a good look at the front of his / her nose, and rule out some of the common causes above. Dr Levin has a paediatric nasendoscope for assessing the entire nasal cavity which he uses in older, cooperative children. X-rays may be necessary to assess the back of the nose in younger children – this is a single, low radiation film where the child is only required to be still for a very short period of time and can be undertaken at any age.
Some children may benefit from allergy testing and review by an Immunologist or Allergist in addition to an ENT surgeon. Dr Levin works very closely with both paediatric and adult allergy specialists.
Regardless of the cause of your child’s blocked nose, Dr Levin’s usual practice is to try one of the conservative treatments before discussing surgical options, unless these have already been exhausted.